Munger Fort, Begusarai
About Munger Fort
The Fort's history has been traced from 1330 AD onwards, under the rule of Muhammad bin Tughluq of Delhi. But its ancient history, as a town, mostly ruled by Hindu kings, is initially traced from a stone inscription to Chandra Gupta Maurya (4th century BC), (after whom it was initially called Gupta Garhis) and later dated to the kingdom of Anga, the capital of which was at Champa near Bhagalpur, and the Pala kings in the 9th century AD. Medieval periodMunger, which was under the rule of the Karnataka dynasty of Mithila, was taken over by Bhaktiyar Khalji in 1225 AD and subsequently under the Khalji ruler, Gyasuddin Khalji. Muhammadan ruleFor a brief period, it came under the control of Sultan of Bengal between 1301 CE and 1322 CE, following a peace treaty with Khaljis. This was followed by annexation of the area to Delhi by Muhammad bin Tughluq, during 1342 CE.Inscriptions reveal that repairs were carried out to the fort during the reign of Prince Danyal of Bengal (son of Bahlol Lodi) who held the post of Governor of Bihar, after the defeat of Jampur rulers by the Sultan of Bengal. It is also stated that Prince Danyal of Bengal built the shrine of Sufi saint Shah Nafah within the south gate of the fort, in 1497 AD. Suri ruleIn 1534 CE, in a battle which took place in the plains of Surajgarha, the formidable army of Ibrahim Khan of Munger was defeated and he was killed by Sher Shah Suri who established the Suri Empire. Thus, the fort came under Sher Shah Suri's overlordship (1486 - May 22, 1545). In the subsequent war that took place between Sher Shah and Humayun, the Mughal Emperor, Munger was the centre of battle between the Afghan and the Mughals. Sher Shah won and the Mughal rule was substituted by Afghan rule.In 1590, the importance of the fort was enhanced by making it the headquarters of Bihar army of the rulers of Gaur under their general named Kutub Khan. Nasrat Shah had succeeded Hussain Shah in Bengal and his brother-in-law, Makhdun Alam, was given control of the Munger fort, which he, in turn, passed on to his general Kutub Khan. Mughal ruleFrom the time of the reign of Akbar in the late 16th century, Monghyr was controlled by the Mughal Emperors. Raja Todar Mal, Minister in the Mughal empire had camped at this fort when he was deputed to put down the rebel forces of Bengal. He substantially refurbished the fortifications of the fort. After a series of intriguing changes in the governorship of Munger Shah Shuja, the second son of Shah Jahan, the Mughal Emperor and Aurangzeb's brother, had fled to this place to escape persecution, during his fight with his brothers for power. He was made governor of the region after protracted negotiations with his brothers Dara Shikoh, Murad and Aurangzeb, and under the treaty of 1658 Munger was added to Shuja's reign. Shuja built a palace on the west side of the fort, which has been described as " very large house where the king (Suja) lived, walled next to the river, for about one and half Kos with bricks and stones, with a wall fifteen yards high".However, in 1745, Mustafa Khan, a rebel leader under General Alivardi Khan took control of the fort when its defenses had weakened. After a few days of stay in the fort, he continued his campaign towards Patna with lots of guns and ammunition taken from the fort.In the 4th Maratha war of 1744, the Maratha army had raided through Bihar and Munger. Jean Law, the French adventurer and partisan of Siraj ud-Daulah (1733 – July 2, 1757), the last independent Nawab of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa was running away after the Battle of Plassey. In July 1757, the British attempted an attack on the fort. Eyre Coote, the British officer (heading the British force) reached Munger in pursuit of Jean Low. But he could not enter the well-fortified fort. He did not dare to attack the fort because the fort garrison had lined up "the ramparts with their matches held near the cannons." But the Governor of the fort provided him boats.In February 1760, Major Caillaud of the Nawab of Bengal and his supporters defeated the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II (1728–1806). The Emperor and his army moved out not only from the fort but also from the district. With this victory, the rule of Mir Qasim, the Nawab of Bengal began with Johan Stables, in charge of Munger fort, launching a successful attack on the Raja of Kharagpur who had opposed the Nawab of Bengal. Nawab of Bengal's ruleMonghyr was thus occupied by Mir Qasim Ali, the Nawab of Bengal (from 1760 to 1764). In 1763, Quasim shifted his capital from Murshidabad to Munger. His new appointee General Gurgin Khan from Isfahan patterned the Bengal Army on the lines of the British forces. At this fort, a factory for arsenal, for manufacturing of fire-arms was established. This tradition has continued to this day; several hundred families who have specialized in the manufacture of guns are continuing with this old tradition. He further added to the fortifications and also built palaces in the fort. Mir Quasim came to be known as a just ruler (he tried to eliminate corruption and injustice) but was also feared by his opponents as a fierce and ruthless warrior. He was also known for encouraging culture and had many scholars in his court. But all this ended soon as he had serious differences on trade and other administrative practices with the British. Mir Qasim later had to use the fort as a base for waging war against the British. But he was defeated in 1764. Later, he turned out to be a poor looser as he disgraced himself by committing serious atrocities on his own people in Munger fort and also in Patna, and also on the English army and other personnel who were captured in Patna. His criminal atrocities in Patna are known in the historical annals as the ‘Massacre of Patna’. Subsequently, the fort lost its glory. Lord Cornwallis, the Governor General, in British India, had built a country house here. British ruleHistory also records a "White Mutiny" by disgruntled officers of the East India Company (who controlled the fort) in the precincts of the Munger Fort, which was put down in 1766 by Lord Clive. The mutiny broke out over the reduction of an extra monthly payment called bhatta to soldiers on active duty. After the suppression of the mutiny, a small garrison was thereafter stationed at the fort. Over the years, the maintenance of the fort was neglected.